"You need to wake up the tea." My friend and I watch as the store-clerk shifts different cups of oolong between his hands, careful not to spill any scalding water over their brim. "Never just poor and drink. Rinse the leaves first."
He tells us more about the tea, about the conferences he's been to and the mountains where these herbs are gathered. I can't help but sit there, just a little more than shocked and enthralled by his stories.
"How'd you end up here?" I ask, perhaps a bit rudely. It's a blunt question that almost sounds accusatory, and I don't intend for it to be like that. I'm just 23 and caught in my own crossroads, wondering how someone can find such a career as a tea-enthusiast.
He looks startled for a second. I don't blame him. But then he shrugs his shoulders and laughs. "I don't know exactly...life just fell out this way."
"How do you like it here in Barbados?" he asks, setting his drink on the counter beside me. I mentally trip over his accent and offer one of those small ah yeah definitely kind of smiles you give someone when you’ve said “what?” too many times.
He sees through the smile—of course—so he laughs and starts speaking faster, needling me with his elbow before I finally catch the word tourist and manage a quick quip to try and defend myself.
It’s a lost cause. On this island? I am a tourist.
New York City isn't known for being the most outdoorsy of places. Our towering gray skyscrapers and 8,537,673 citizens make it difficult to find a Walden-esque retreat.
But there are places to go if you want a bit of nature. And maybe not nature in the traditional sense, but greenery nonetheless.
Most everyone has some basic understanding of the Greek gods. Usually it involves either Disney's Hercules or Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, and maybe (if they've taken classics in college) they'll mention that Zeus was a freak.
Then there's Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. I was curious as to western and European depictions of the ancient goddess, so I did a quick google search. Just one simple question: "What does Aphrodite look like?" The most popular result was Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus," showcasing the heavenly woman in an over-sized clam and with cascading blonde hair. I also saw a lot of Halloween costumes draped across stick thinned and big-breasted women.
Now before I continue I should warn you: this piece is not about beauty standards as epitomized by the way we remember ancient gods.
This piece is about Cyprus, though. My mother's island, and Aphrodite's mythical birthplace.
I've fallen for the world one sunrise at a time, but last week gave me my heart in a sunset.
Yeah I know. It's not some gorgeous ocean-side sunset crawl, or a mountainous beauty. But that up there is home. All of it. Rooftop graffiti and neon-orange construction cones and sneakers hung off telephone wires. The congested sidewalk and blaring bus horns and crowds of umbrellas poking my side.
It's my little corner of Queens, New York.
From guides to rants.